We Are Church Together

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service  

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president & ceo​


Report submitted by Dr. Kristin Witte, Director for Outreach

Greetings, Siblings in Christ of the Metropolitan New York Synod,
It has been a difficult year for all of us. Despite restrictive policy changes and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, LIRS has remained committed to our biblical mandate to welcome the stranger.

We Are Resilient TOGETHER

In the last year:
  • 2,782 refugees were welcomed through LIRS affiliates in 23 states.
  • 440 unaccompanied migrant children were served through our foster care services and placed in loving homes during and after legal proceedings.
  • 9,500 asylum seekers received Safe Release and Post Release services at our southern border.

We Are Hopeful TOGETHER

Even in those darkest of days, thousands of people from across the country partnered with LIRS to express their support for migrants and refugees through our annual programs and advocacy efforts. The compassion of our neighbors gives us hope, and we are proud to report that in the last year:
  • 16,000 holiday cards and 500 gifts were sent to migrant children and families in detention, through our annual Hope for the Holidays program.
  • More than 600 ELCA clergy and lay leaders signed a letter drafted by the ELCA and LIRS, urging Congress to work collaboratively to advance comprehensive immigration legislation.
  • LIRS’ work was featured on national platforms, such as NPR, the Washington Post, Center for American Progress, Religion News Service, and in the newly-released second edition of They Are Us: Lutherans and Immigration, by Pastor Stephen Bouman, former Bishop of your synod.
We are especially grateful for the congregations and communities in the Metropolitan New York Synod who have continued their generous and prayerful support. We could not do this work without you.

God's Work. Our Hands, TOGETHER

Now that work is expanding, in 2021, the U.S. expects to welcome 125,000 refugees to our shores. LIRS is actively looking to congregations and faith leaders to partner with us in ways big and small, including donations, volunteer work, and participation in our annual programming.
Emmaus: A Congregational Discernment Program, launches this spring for congregations to discern how they can best walk alongside refugees and migrants in their community, and Stand Up Speak Up, coming in Pentecost, is a new interfaith prayer vigil focused on advocacy. We encourage you to stay up-to-date on opportunities for individual and congregational engagement at the LIRS Action Center, found at www.lirsconnect.org/get_involved
With your support, we will continue to live our mission: witnessing to God’s love for all people, standing with and advocating for migrants and refugees, and transforming communities through ministries of service and justice. Thank you for accompanying LIRS and our migrant and refugee siblings through 2021 and beyond. God bless you.
In peace,
Dr. Kristin Witte, Director for Outreach